Fahrenheit 451

Characters

  • Guy Montag is the protagonist and a fireman who presents the dystopian world in which he lives first through the eyes of a worker loyal to it, then as a man in conflict about it, and eventually as someone resolved to be free of it. Through most of the book, Montag lacks knowledge and believes only what he hears.
  • Clarisse McClellan is a young girl one month short of her 17th birthday who is Montag's neighbor. She walks with Montag on his trips home from work.[note 3][20] She is an unusual sort of person compared to the others inhabiting the bookless, hedonistic society: outgoing, naturally cheerful, unorthodox, and intuitive. She is unpopular among peers and disliked by teachers for asking "why" instead of "how" and focusing on nature rather than on technology. A few days after her first meeting with Montag, she disappears without any explanation; Mildred tells Montag (and Captain Beatty confirms) that Clarisse was hit by a speeding car and that her family moved away following her death. In the afterword of a later edition, Bradbury notes that the film adaptation changed the ending so that Clarisse (who, in the film, is now a 20-year-old schoolteacher who was fired for being unorthodox) was living with the exiles. Bradbury, far from being displeased by this, was so happy with the new ending that he wrote it into his later stage edition.
  • Mildred "Millie" Montag is Guy Montag's wife. She is addicted to sleeping pills, absorbed in the shallow dramas played on her "parlor walls" (flat-panel televisions), and indifferent to the oppressive society around her. She is described in the book as "thin as a praying mantis from dieting, her hair burnt by chemicals to a brittle straw, and her flesh like white bacon." Despite her husband's attempts to break her from the spell society has on her, Mildred continues to be shallow and indifferent. After Montag scares her friends away by reading Dover Beach, and finding herself unable to live with someone who has been hoarding books, Mildred betrays Montag by reporting him to the firemen and abandoning him, and dies when the city is bombed.
  • Captain Beatty is Montag's boss and the book's main antagonist. Once an avid reader, he has come to hate books due to their unpleasant content and contradicting facts and opinions. After attempting to force Montag to burn his house, Montag kills him with a flamethrower, only to later realize that Beatty had given him the flamethrower and goaded him on purpose so that Montag would kill him. However, it is still unclear whether or not Beatty was ever on Montag's side, or if he was just suicidal. In a scene written years later by Bradbury for the Fahrenheit 451 play, Beatty invites Montag to his house where he shows him walls of books left to molder on their shelves.
  • Stoneman and Black are Montag's coworkers at the firehouse. They do not have a large impact on the story and function only to show the reader the contrast between the firemen who obediently do as they are told and someone like Montag, who formerly took pride in his job but subsequently realizes how damaging it is to society. Black is later framed by Montag for possessing books.
  • Faber is a former English professor. He has spent years regretting that he did not defend books when he saw the moves to ban them. Montag turns to him for guidance, remembering him from a chance meeting in a park sometime earlier. Faber at first refuses to help Montag, and later realizes Montag is only trying to learn about books, not destroy them. He secretly communicates with Montag through an electronic ear-piece and helps Montag escape the city, then gets on a bus to St. Louis and escapes the city himself before it is bombed. Bradbury notes in his afterword that Faber is part of the name of a German manufacturer of pencils, Faber-Castell.
  • Mrs. Ann Bowles and Mrs. Clara Phelps are Mildred's friends and representative of the anti-intellectual, hedonistic mainstream society presented in the novel. During a social visit to Montag's house, they brag about ignoring the bad things in their lives and have a cavalier attitude towards the upcoming war, their husbands, their children, and politics. Mrs. Phelps' husband Pete was called in to fight in the upcoming war (and believes that he'll be back in a week because of how quick the war will be) and thinks having children serves no purpose other than to ruin lives. Mrs. Bowles is a thrice-married single mother. Her first husband divorced her, her second died in a jet accident, and her third committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. She has two children who do not like or respect her due to her permissive, often negligent and abusive parenting; Mrs. Bowles brags that her kids beat her up, and she's glad she can hit back. When Montag reads Dover Beach to them, he strikes a chord in Mrs. Phelps, who starts crying over how hollow her life is. Mrs. Bowles chastises Montag for reading "silly awful hurting words".
  • Granger is the leader of a group of wandering intellectual exiles who memorize books in order to preserve their contents.

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